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Volume 55, Issue 5


The substance of style: Gender, social class and interactional stance in /s/-fronting in southeast England

Sophie Holmes-Elliott / Erez Levon
Published Online: 2017-09-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2017-0020


This paper proposes an empirical method for the quantitative analysis of stance-taking in interaction. Building on recent conceptualizations of stance as the primary building-block of variation in language style, we describe how to implement an analysis of stance within a variationist framework via an examination of the particular speech activities within which stances are embedded combined with a consideration of the specific interactional goals these activities achieve. We illustrate our proposals with an investigation of variation in /s/-quality in the speech of cast members from two British reality television programs. Examining nearly 2000 tokens of /s/ in over 6 hours of recorded speech, we demonstrate how different acoustic realizations of /s/ in the sample correlate with the level of “threat” of a given speech activity, and we argue that this interactionally based analysis provides a better explanatory account of the patterns in our data than an analysis based on large social categories would. Through this paper, we therefore hope to contribute not only to the development of a more robust method for examining stance in quantitative sociolinguistic research, but also to help clarify the relationship between stances, speech activities and speaker identities more broadly.

Keywords: style; stance; stance accretion; language variation; /s/-fronting; southeast England


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-09-06

Published in Print: 2017-09-26

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 55, Issue 5, Pages 1045–1072, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2017-0020.

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